The Rowan volleyball team defeated Rutgers-Camden 3-1 in a tough New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) battle Thursday night.
Rowan came into the match on a ten-game winning streak and in three of their last four matches, they haven’t even lost a set. That changed when Rutgers-Camden came out strong and won the first set 25-22.
“It wasn’t ideal for us or how we would really want to start a match, but these girls came into the huddle and I said ‘what’s lacking?’ and they said ‘a terminating mindset.’ And I said ‘that’s our focus.’ They went back on the court and that’s exactly what they did,” Assistant Coach Julia Worth said. “Whether it was passing the ball or hitting the ball, they had a terminating mindset, and they weren’t leaving the court without a win.”
In the second set, the Profs came out much stronger to start, but as would be the theme for the rest of the match, Rutgers-Camden continued to fight and made the set close down the stretch. The resiliency of Rutgers-Camden tested the mental strength of Rowan, but it was a test the team was able to handle as they would win the set 25-20.
“Definitely well fought from both sides,” Coach Worth said. “Camden came out with so much intensity and so much fight against us but ultimately, I think it’s just the mental toughness and the overall fortitude that this team has that took us all the way through.”
It was middle blocker Kalyiah Moss, a sophomore, from Rutgers-Camden that was giving the Profs trouble early on, with five total blocks on the night. Outsider hitter Brianna Newson, a junior, knew the team had to change their strategy to have success.
“We talked, pushing it faster and further to get around 33 [Moss], the big block on the other side. She’s very good so it made us more competitive,” Newson said.
Newson was struggling to finish her attacks in the first set but, like the rest of her team, found a way to adjust and finish with 13 kills, tying middle hitter Isabel Kirchne, a freshman, for the most on the team.
“Me and my setter were thrown off because the sets we usually run weren’t working right away and it just took us a little bit to get into it but we talked a lot,” Newson said. “Every point we talked about what was working and what wasn’t. So I think once we finally got that, that’s when I started picking up.”
The win brought Rowan to 6-0 in NJAC play and with only two games remaining in conference play, the team now finds themselves within striking distance of securing the number one seed and a first-round bye in the NJAC tournament.
“It feels amazing,” Worth said. “Obviously this is my first year with the group, but they are just such an amazing group so it literally can’t happen to a better set of girls.”
Newson is thrilled with the way the season has gone so far and wants to finish it out strong for her Head Coach, Deana Jespersen, who is currently not in person with the team following her surgery.
“I’m just so happy. I can’t remember a time in the past when Rowan has been this consistent with our NJAC wins. And to know that we are the team this year, that are the ones doing it, it feels amazing,” Newson said. “I hope we can win our last two and that coach (Jespersen) can watch us do it for her.”
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